Read Forest Secrets Online

Authors: David Laing

Tags: #Childrens' Fiction

Forest Secrets

Forest Secrets

David Laing

Published by JoJo Publishing

First published 2013

‘Yarra's Edge'

2203/80 Lorimer Street

Docklands VIC 3008

Australia

Email:
[email protected]

or visit
www.jojopublishing.com

© David Laing

All rights reserved. No part of this printed or video publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electrical, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the publisher and copyright owner.

JoJo Publishing

Designer / typesetter: Chameleon Print Design

Illustrations © Steve Howells, water colour & line artist

Editor: Ormé Harris

ISBN: 978-0-9875879-7-8 (ePub)

National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-Publication entry

Author:
Laing, David, author.
Title:
Forest secrets : ghosts come in many guises / David W. Laing.
ISBN:
978-0-9875879-7-8 (ePub)
Target Audience:
For children.
Dewey Number:
A823.4

Digital edition distributed by

Port Campbell Press

www.portcampbellpress.com.au

Conversion by
Winking Billy

About the Author

D
avid Laing, a retired school principal, is now a full-time author. He has just completed the third book of his young adult, ‘Forest' trilogy
,
Forest Secrets
and is currently researching an adult novel,
The Quinine Factor,
which he hopes will be released in 2014.

At present, he is touring schools throughout Tasmania where he gives presentations to students. He is also a regular speaker these days at various adult groups such as Apex, Probus and Lions. At these presentations, David never fails to mention how he gets inspiration for his stories – from the people he has met and the life experiences he has had during his many travels throughout Australia.

David now resides in beautiful Needles, Tasmania with his wife, Wendy and his dog, Jesse.

Other books by this author:

Forest Spirit

Forest Shadows

A Tumble in Time

Author website:
www.davidlaingauthor.com

Acknowledgements

M
y sincere thanks go out to my editor, Ormé who, as always, was on the ball with everything she undertook. Thanks also to Luke for your design and artistry. Thanks to Barry and Jo for another chance to help
Make a Difference.
Water colour and line artist, Steve Howells, has also shown his talents by way of the brilliantly humorous line drawings as shown in the book. Thanks also to Margaret Cowen for her poem,
My Country, My Land
, which so aptly captures the ethos of the story. My sincere thanks, also, to both Emeritus Professor Paul Hughes and author, Paul Eckert who were both extremely generous with their expert advice regarding our indigenous people.

For all the Aboriginal children and their families that I have met over the years. I'll never forget your smiling faces.

I sense the spirits

when they walk the land;

the keepers

watching, waiting to return;

a flame that burns

deep in my heart,

never extinguished

mine to pass on.

For the love of this country,

the land of my birth.

A verse from the poem,
‘My Country, My Land,'
by Margaret Cowen,
Word Weavers An Anthology of Poetry,
S.W.W.T., Foot and Playsted, Tasmania, 2010, p27.

Prologue

The rhotosaurus tore some leaves from the high branches of the conifer tree and chewed. Always cautious, he turned his head from side to side, watching and listening. All he could hear were the usual sounds of the forest – the rustling leaves and bushes, the scurrying ground dwellers, the distant roar of another dinosaur. Then suddenly he stopped chewing. There was something else, a smell, one that he'd never come across before that was somehow threatening. He didn't know why or how but he could feel it, sense its menace.

There was a noise, too. But that was a familiar sound. It was a snuffling coming from nearby – from the trees at the edge of the small clearing where he stood. Swivelling his long neck, he saw that it was the two muttaburrasauruses that he often saw prowl-ing around in the forest, feeding from the low-hanging branches of the trees. They were the bird-hipped dinosaurs that walked on two legs. And although plant eaters, they were considered by all the other dinosaurs, big and small, to be dangerous. They were fearless and always up for a fight. The rhotosaurus liked to keep his distance from them whenever he could. Although they were nowhere near his size, he knew he was no match for their deadly leg spikes that could rip his hide to shreds in seconds.

Standing perfectly still, he waited, hoping they'd go away.

But there was something else. Something he had felt a few moments earlier … that was far more dangerous than the muttaburrasauruses. Thousands of times more. And it was coming towards him.

It was an object as big as a small city and it was travelling at twenty times the speed of a bullet. It was an asteroid, due to blast through the earth's hemisphere in seconds and which was destined to crash into the sea to create a wave, a monster wall of water 100 metres high.

Oblivious to the coming danger, and from habit more than anything else and hoping that the two dinosaurs below would leave him alone, he pushed his small head through the branches of the conifer for more leaves. But the strange feeling that something was wrong came over him again. He didn't know what it was. He simply felt it, sensed it like before. It was something … different. With all thoughts of food gone from his mind, he swivelled his long neck to the left and right, listening and looking about him. The two killer dinosaurs had gone and the forest, like a corpse, had grown quiet and still. Wondering what was happening, and without thinking, he snatched some more leaves from the nearest branch and began to chew once more. But something was tickling the side of his face and neck; there was that smell again too, a faint, bitter smell. It was drifting in on the breeze which was getting stronger and, for some reason, becoming warmer … quickly.

He didn't know that it was the forerunner to a superheat-ed killer cyclone already raging on the other side of the planet. And he didn't know that the asteroid's tail, a long, yellow, burning streak, had just exploded above the earth, scattering great chunks of scorching metal and burning debris to all corners of the land.

The giant lizard's nostrils twitched and his body shuddered. He lifted his head above the tops of the trees trying to figure out what was happening. That's when he saw the mountain beyond the forest. Black smoke and swirling ash were pouring from its peak. He could see that the mountain was about to explode. And for the first time he felt the ground begin to shudder.

He threw back his head and roared. Nearby birds and other dinosaurs scattered. They knew the great lizard well and they knew that today he was uneasy … about something. They didn't know what that something was. They also didn't know that the volcano beyond the forest would soon be throwing its rocks and choking ash into the sky; that soon its rivers would emerge as slow streams of red, scalding spew that would slither through their forest and over their land, killing everything in their paths.

Backing away from his tree into an open area nearby, the rhotosaurus looked up and stared. He was mystified. Rocks, glowing red, and sparks were falling from the sky. But not from the volcano. It hadn't exploded yet. He did see, however, that every one of the fiery rocks was starting fires and that the trees and bushes surrounding him were beginning to burn.

The rhotosaurus hesitated. His hide was starting to singe and the thickening smoke was stinging his eyes. What to do now? Where to go? The other dinosaurs were wondering the same. They were drifting one by one and in groups into the clearing where they gathered alongside the rhotosaurus. Mingling and rubbing shoulders with each other as though seeking safety from the growing heat and the stiffening breeze, they stared as if mesmerised as the forest continued to erupt around them. The flying pterosaurs were the last to arrive, howling and screeching in the sky, dipping and weaving towards the gathering horde of beasts. That's when he decided.

Lifting his head to the sky once more, he roared and then, head jutting, neck stretched, looking neither to the left nor right, the giant lizard, with the others following, ran.

Chapter 1

M
y cousin, Snook, didn't look too good. He was sitting directly across from me next to his best mate, Skinny Watson. Our year 10 teacher, Mr Winterbottom – we all called him Stormy for short – was pacing the floor telling us about the destruction of the dinosaurs and how an asteroid had wiped them out. I was only half listening. I was watching Snook; something was bothering him. His usual lopsided, cheeky grin had disappeared, his face was a sickly grey skeleton colour, his eyes were wide and kinda goofy-looking and his mouth was hanging slack like a busted balloon.

Stormy had noticed Snook's unusual behaviour; Snook was strangely quiet, for a start, not yacking to Skinny or fiddling with something or other. No, he was the model student. Except for his sickly look, that is. Not having to yell at Snook was probably worrying Stormy as well. There'd been no
Settle down Kelly!
or
Behave Kelly!
coming from his mouth at all.

A short, nervy man, our teacher liked lessons that went smoothly. He didn't appreciate interruptions or anything that was different, like Snook was now. Looking a bit anxious, Stormy strode over to the whiteboard, picked up a marking pen and, as if trying to use up his frustrations, began to scribble notes madly, and then, as though he had eyes in the back of his head, he said, ‘Sit up, Snook Kelly and stop slouching.' At last, I thought, he's told Snook off for something. He'll be happy now.

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